Monday, June 13, 2011

Unexpected Vacation, Day 2

(Recall Day 1.)

I knew from yesterday that the Farmers Union Oil Co.'s automotive shop would open at 7:00 A.M. today, and I was up and ready by 6:30 so that I could be sure to be there when they opened.  Yesterday afternoon the van died while we were parked on the street by the Farmers Union, so that's where I walked this morning.  I tried to start the van to see if I'd be able to drive it into the shop at least, and to my surprise, it started and ran just fine.  I even took it for a drive out of town a ways and back, and it seemed perfectly normal.  Still, I didn't want to take any chances of our getting stranded again while driving home, and I asked the mechanics if they could look it over.

The van's symptoms returned after they got the vehicle in their shop, and Russ (the main mechanic looking it over) was conscientious in diagnosing the problem, even enlisting the advice of a Ford technician via a telephone hotline.  They determined that the problem was the distributor, a new one of which Russ could get delivered overnight from Minneapolis, MN to Minot, ND and then driven by courier to Westhope by midday Tuesday.  That meant we'd be staying one more night in Westhope.

So I reserved our motel room for another night and walked back to tell Susan and the girls the news.  We decided to make the best of it.  We walked to M & D Pizza Place for a dinner of delicious burgers.  An older man (and also employee, manager, or owner of the restaurant) stopped by to visit while we were there.  He asked if we'd like to borrow his car to drive around while waiting for our own vehicle to be fixed--and he didn't know us from Adam!  Small-town hospitality is amazing.

We walked to Opdahl Grocery to buy some snacks and a deck of cards for some evening entertainment as well as some food for breakfast the next morning.  Susan and the girls had been in the grocery store earlier, so when the owner saw us back in there, he said, "Should I not ask?" (about the prognosis for the vehicle).  He (and nearly everybody else we encountered) joked about our remaining in Westhope and how they'd happily welcome us to their community.  Then we took a walking tour of the town, spending some time at one playground on the grounds of the school and another next to the town's swimming pool.

On the west side of Westhope Public School is an awesome collection of playground equipment.  We started at one set of swings and worked our way north through the rest of the options.  Two little kids who live across the street from the school joined us, too, and were friendly little tykes.
That slide is made of many rollers placed one next to the other so that one doesn't slide down it so much as one rolls down it.  We've never seen one like it before.
We enjoyed making one another hover in mid-air.
The school features an old-school merry-go-round: splintery wood, rusty metal with hard edges and welded joints . . . a lawsuit just waiting to happen.  Just like they used to make 'em!
We found three little frogs hopping around the playground equipment.  The girls named them P.J., Willie, and Shepherd.  We let them go again in the shade of the school building, figuring they'd be too hot hopping around out in the open.
I've never seen this item on a playground: it's a disc on the bottom and a steering wheel at the top, both of which spin and both of which are set at angles.  Here the girls are trying to keep things spinning while pumping with their legs to rotate the angled disc and using their arm muscles to turn the angled wheel.
On the east side of town is a swimming pool with a playground next to it.  We were hot and tired from playing at the other playground and then walking around town, so Suzanna and I took advantage of the opportunity to rest in the cool shade of the tube slide.
We returned to M & D and shared a loaded pizza for supper before heading back to the motel for the night to snack, play cards, watch TV, and pray for good news in the morning.


  1. It sounds like it was actually a pretty good day...Sort of like we'd've spent when we were kids.

  2. It's good that you haven't had many issues with the van considering it's age. My van that I sold to a friend has been having many things (expensive fixes!) go wrong time and time again. I told her (Tracey) that she is just bad luck!